SHENZHEN, China – Sunday, October 18th – Sami Selioshowed off his speed and his cool driving talents as he was pushed to the limit by defending World ChampionJay Price of the Qatar Team who did everything he could to win for the first time in five races, but, it was the Helsinki, Finland driver who came away with the 20 points and moved closer to the top of the drivers championship table with his second victory in the last four starts here at the 11th Grand Prix of China.
The lead driver of the Mad Croc sponsored boat who now has 83 points on the season sitting third in the championship, switched hulls and drove teammates Massimo Roggierio’s boat instead of his own damaged hull for the first time. Sami took his fourth straight pole position and lead every tour of the 52 lap event in front of tens of thousands of fans along the edge of the South China Sea on the short 1.6 kilometer (.99 mile) five turn race circuit.
“It was a great victory for us and Massimo’s boat fit like a glove,” said Sami. “Jay pushed me very hard at the end as did Guido Cappellini early on, but we had just enough top end to hold off all comers this afternoon. Now we look forward to the rest of the season and we definitely have momentum on our side.”
As Selio was re leaved to being on the top step of the podium, Price was happy to get back into the points for the first time in four races and now has a chance to make a statement heading back to his home with a pair of races in Doha with 70 points in his pocket and fourth in the championship.
“I did my best to catch him,” said Jay. “I got side by side with him at one point but couldn’t make the move to grab the lead when the time came. Now we get ready to go back to Qatar and these races are my home events and we will be hard to beat believe me.”
The other driver on the podium was the talented Frenchman Philippe Chiappe as he drove the Atlantic Team French Moore boat to a solid third taking his second career podium and proving he is becoming a bigger player in the championship picture as well now ninth with 45 points.
China CTIC Team driver Fabian Kalsow had his best finish of his brief career taking a well earned fourth position in his DAC boat while moving up to 12th in the championship standings and now holding down 21 points tied with Marit Stromoy of Norway who failed to start because of a steering problem with her boat that developed at the launch pontoon.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Thani Al Qamzi cruised home in fifth a lap down in a less than perfect race package while picking up seven valuable championship points still sitting second in the championship with 88 as the series heads to the Middle East and his home country of the United Arab Emirates in the month of December.
Thani’s teammate Ahmed Al Hameli had worst luck as he crashed out of the event on the first two turns of the race when he launched off a wake and slid into Sweden’s Pierre Lundin taking out one-half of theChina CTIC Team in the incident. Al Hameli is seventh in the drivers standings with 52 points, while Lundin is tenth with 42.
Portugal’s Duarte Benavente had a solid sixth place in his Dragon hull having scored in all four Chinese events and sits 11th in the championship with 34 points for his Atlantic Team.
Fabio Comparato of the 800 Doctor sponsored boat had an up and down afternoon qualifying ninth and finishing seventh despite destroying a turn buoy and being forced to institute a drive through penalty by the officials. The incident saw him dropping out of the top ten in the race before charging back to seventh. He’s eighth in the championship with 46 points.
Italian Francesco Cantando in his Singha F1 sponsored Blaze boat was up to third at one point and ready for a podium finish for the third time in his last four starts.Instead his engine expired on the next to last lap sending his point total from 12 to only 3 and now he’s sixth in the drivers title with 55 points.
Australian Craig Bailey got points for the third straight time for the Qatar Team as a fill in driver for injured Andy Elliott. He was ninth on the day and sits 19th in the championship with six points.
World Drivers Points leader Jonas Andersson earned a single point dropping out of third place on the 35th lap and now holds a four point lead over Thani Al Qamzi as the series heads off to Doha in Qatar on the 27th and 28th of November. The rough harbor course in downtown Doha is notorious for it’s challenging Grand Prix event.
Five drivers are now within 23 points of the championship and there are still 120 points available before the 2009 campaign comes to an end. The story gets better as things just keep tightening up at the top of the Drivers Championship.